Sunday, 7 August 2016

Crossroads of the World - Day 8

Hagia Sofia

Istanbul                                                                         Turkey

Thursday 16th October 2014

Yet again I had a terrible morning as the call to prayer was right on cue and sang out early in the morning. I was not to complain though as that would be the last time I would be woken up early with the sound, still there was part of me that was going to miss it. I thought it was good to get up a bit earlier anyway in order to make sure I had everything ready to take my leave. I spent the majority of the morning with the TV on watching another episode of Sherlock Holmes also having time to take a shower feeling fresh and awake for the remainder of the long day ahead of me. I also had enough time to savour the last moments of the wonderful view I had of the Marmara Sea and the Blue mosques minarets in the distance. It seemed to feel like forever for the morning to be over with before I suddenly heard a knock at the door. I answered and it was the receptionist who sounded out of breath due to climbing the flights of stairs. He said my transport was waiting for me outside of the building so he took my rucksack down as I picked up my hand luggage and double checked I had everything I needed. I left the room for the final time as I shut the door and headed downstairs. I reached the bottom with the receptionist waiting at the door for me. He pointed at the van I would be going in and as I looked over, the driver was placing my rucksack into the van. I handed the keys back and shook his hand thanking him for having me and saying that it was a pleasure to be there. We said our goodbyes and as soon as I entered the van, we set off for Ataturk airport. 

I sat back relaxing in the taxi watching the city become distant and watching cars weave in and out from each other. We were also driving alongside the Marmara Sea looking at the hundreds of cargo ships stationary on the water. Time passed as we were still heading west and eventually there were airport signs beginning to show up on the motorway which gave me a clear indication to get my self ready to get out of the taxi. We pulled up at the departure terminal and after receiving my rucksack and thanking the driver. I headed inside the airport with my thinking hat on because as soon as I entered, the first thing I had to do was to go through the security checks. This was the first time I had seen this procedure to be at the entrance to an airport; but I could understand why security was so tight. So it was off with the metal that I had on me placing it on a tray along with my hand luggage and rucksack. I walked through the metal detector and was cleared to continue on with all my goods. 

Ataturk Airport

My next concern was to find the departure board and to find out which check in desk I had to go to. It was easy to find the departures board as it was right next to the security area. I managed to find my flight but the trouble was that there was no check in desk number with my flight which was not a worry as this was a large and busy airport. I had a walk around the area and once I did so, I thought I would check the board again. I got there and my flight still didn’t have a check in number. So I sat near the board just waiting for the numbers to come up. As I waited, I heard a tazer sound over my shoulder and it was one of the security guards holding a tazer brought in by a passenger trying to get it through the security area. I watched on as the security guard took it from them intending not to give the passenger it back. I was just wondering how they could think about trying to get it onto a plane; idiots I thought. 

A long time passed and still no number was placed with my flight. It was becoming a bit worrying as my flight was leaving in 1 hour 30 minutes. Thankfully, the check in desk finally showed up so I grabbed my belongings and walked to it. It was typical that it was at the opposite end of the terminal from where I was sitting but I eventually made it waiting in a small queue. I finally got seen to and showed my passport to the colleague. I received my tickets and immediately realised I was not sitting at the window seats on both planes. I was gutted as I was hoping to be at the window. I passed through customs quite quickly and as it was getting really close to boarding my plane, I didn’t have time to have a look at the many shops in the departure lounge. I made haste for my gate and once I arrived there, I could calm down knowing I had spare time to relax and watch the planes taking off and land. I thought that it would be a good opportunity to call home and tell my parents that I was waiting at the airport to board my plane. My mother was yet again relieved to hear from me as from what I could hear, she was crying with happiness on the phone. 

A small time had passed after the phone conversation before the call came out to begin boarding the plane. It was a slow walk to the plane and once I had boarded the plane I took my seat on the dreaded aisle seat. I was trying to look out of the window as much as I could but the trouble was I sat in line with the wing so there was no real view to see. This meant I was dreading the flight back to Paris as I had no perception of how high I was or where I was. It was time to take off and the nerves started to pick up again as I knew this was the longest flying time for the day. A familiar burst in speed pushed my whole body into the seat and we were soon off the ground saying goodbye to Istanbul. It was so hard to try and look out the window whilst in the aisle seat so I tried my best to keep my head down and not look ahead because if I saw the plane vibrating in front of me, I would feel claustrophobic and out of control. 

Istanbul to Paris

We eventually reached 35,000 feet and were cruising along in the direction of Paris. A small time passed in the air and then we were told to put our seatbelts back on as we were going to expect turbulence. As was expected the turbulence came and it was the worst feeling to be rocked around left, right, up and down whilst looking ahead not knowing what was happening in front of me. It was a great feeling though when the seatbelt sign came off and the plane was steady. At this point the stewards brought us a tray of food which I was happy to see as I was starting to get hungry; I ate nearly everything on the tray. A long while passed with nothing but horrible turbulence before the sound I wanted to hear came over the tannoy. It was the captain stating that he was beginning to descend. I felt so relieved to hear that as I really wanted to get off the plane and be on the ground after the bad experience. Finally the plane landed safely and I felt really happy as did the other passengers on the plane. We stopped at the gate and I exited the plane heading through the gate with a big smile on my face knowing that I was on the ground. 

However, unlike the other passengers I had another plane to board. I decided to call home straight away to inform my parents that I landed safely in Paris. My father answered and he sounded happy to hear from me. As I already knew where the board was for connecting flights, I felt confident about finding my way around the terminals and gates. I looked at the board and immediately found my flight and gate number so I decided to head straight for it without wasting any time. I had to go through customs yet again for security checks but as I placed my bag and metal through the conveyor belt, the guard looked quite confused as to what was in my bag. However, the guards did not approach me to ask me to open my bag; not that I had anything to hide. Once that was all sorted I headed for my gate. It was a long terminal and yet again my gate was right at the opposite end so I walked and walked stopping off at a small shop to buy some pringles until I finally arrived at my gate. 

Paris Airport Terminal

There were quite a lot of people sitting waiting at my gate but they weren’t for the plane to Newcastle. I had a look at the board and had seen that they were going to Moscow. It was a good job I seen the board otherwise I would have thought I was heading home but instead I would be heading to Russia. When they left, the board’s information changed for Newcastle which was a relief as I knew I was in the right place. I was relaxing on the seats until a French woman came over and asked me to take part in her survey she was doing about the airports advertisements. I answered her questions whilst having a laugh about it and then continued on with my relaxation. Time had passed as more passengers started to arrive at the gate waiting for the call to board. 

After showing my boarding pass I headed towards my plane descending down some spiral stairs and outside feeling the cool breeze hit my face. As I was outside, I could also see the rain from the lights shining from the plane which made me think of home. On this plane I would be sitting near the front and in the middle seat which was slightly better than the aisle seat. I boarded and was in my seat straight away. I sat next to a woman on my right and a man who was on my left who looked like a businessman. Once we were all seated and the doors sealed shut, we left the gate and headed straight for the runway. It was nice to finally see out of the window even though I was sitting in the middle seat watching the many lights on the runway pass the window as we gained speed and took off. I looked out of the window and was really happy to see the patches of light on the ground of Paris as we headed for home. 

Paris to Newcastle

This was a shorter flight which I was happy about but was still thinking about turbulence whether it would happen or not. As we gained altitude the seatbelt sign came off and the stewards were soon out with the food trolley. I wasn’t expecting to get any food on this flight but I was given a pack of biscuits and cheddars with a glass of water which I was happy to have. As it was getting late I was beginning to get tired so I thought I would take a quick nap leaning on my drop down tray. 

Time passed and the next thing I knew, I woke up just in time for the seatbelt sign to come on as we were beginning our descent. Whilst we were descending, I got talking to the gentlemen and woman next to me offering them sweets for the descent. It felt great finally hearing English and I was so happy to finally see the ground getting closer and closer until we landed safely at Newcastle airport. I could immediately tell the difference in temperature which reminded me that I was home. The plane stopped and I disembarked full of relief that I had made it back safe and sound. I eventually passed through passport control and straight to baggage reclaim. Yet again the moment came whether my bag was here or not. It eventually showed up but as I lifted it off the conveyor belt, I immediately realised the straps were broken and I couldn’t put it on my back. I headed out of the baggage reclaim and through the arrivals hall with yet another smile on my face. I exited the airport and headed for the pick up point. 

Newcastle Airport

As I got closer, I could see my grandparents waiting for me. I was so happy to see them as I got to the car loading my gear. They asked how my holiday was and I told them it was fantastic and telling them the unique sights and sounds I heard. We talked all the way back home where yet again we turned the final corner and there was home with the front light on as a beacon. We parked up and I could see both my parents in the living room popping their heads up to see me get out of the car. I grabbed my things from the car and when I looked up, there were my parents at the doorway feeling relieved to see me back. As they were waiting for me to come to them, Smudge had no intention of waiting so she scarpered towards me full of excitement. She was wagging her tail like a propeller and trying to kiss my face. I said my goodbyes to my grandparents and headed inside to be welcomed by my parents. I was talking to my parents about my holiday experience, what I had seen and done with my time there. It was getting late now and all I wanted to do was to lie in bed and fall asleep. As I lay down I felt a sad and happy ending to this year’s incredible journey to know that I finally achieved what I set out to do this year and before I fell asleep I muttered “I did it”.

Happy Smudge
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